Author Topic: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?  (Read 446 times)

Offline TheReturnofLive

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Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« on: November 08, 2020, 02:02:13 PM »
Mainly an American thing, but it definitely applies to Europea as well.

The promise and gimmick of capitalism was this - yes, there is an unequal and uneven hierarchy, but if you work hard enough in an area that is in demand, you can rise through the hierarchy to get to a place you desire. You had the image of the white picket fence house with a family and kids.

However, the rate at which economic growth has increased from the 50s onward (not just growth itself, but the rate of growth - the speed of growth is increasing, not just growth increasing), along with the increased growth rate of technological advancement, and the increasing population / competition have definitely made the hierarchy "rigid" and more difficult to advance.

Back in the 70s, getting a college degree meant a nice job and a nice family with a nice house. Now it means a ridiculous amount of debt and, unless its a particularly skilled major (for example, finance, engineering, etc.), it means a job at Starbucks -  unless you used the university's connections to land a job through rigorous networking (good luck!)

Now this is not merely because of late-stage capitalism's development - a huge part of this problem is our government being way too lenient with loans and funding for students and colleges.

But this extends to other facets of what was once the American dream as well.

Speaking to technology, in the past, another way to get your feet through the door was creating a unique invention, innovation; Don and Joe trying their ideas that they spent twinkling in the garage.

Nowadays, technological growth is so absurd that there's really not a whole lot one can invent, and be successful, without education. 

My question is this: What's the Catholic answer?

Catholicism often prided itself on its rigid hierarchy. "God made me king, obey me." So in many ways, the rigidness of hierarchy is perfectly in line with traditional Catholic doctrine. However, does this inevitable rigidness of hierarchy speak to some moral dogmatic truth?

However, the rigid hierarchy has God absent and still maintains this narrative of "I got here through hard work, now I get to enjoy the pleasures of life." Something not necessarily true.

Can Catholicism support an idea which allows and encourages a flexibility in hierarchy? Was the previous climbing up and down the hierarchy seen as an intrinsic good by Roman Catholicism?

What should Catholics advocate moving forward?

« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 02:08:15 PM by TheReturnofLive »
 

Offline james03

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Re: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2020, 04:48:43 PM »
There is a world famous book called "The Economics of Catholic Subsidiarity" which is the answer to the libertarian right and the left.  Available on Amazon, with an embarrassingly low price.

We aren't in "late stage capitalism".  The U.S. has a mixed socialist / distributist economy, i.e. heavy government involvement.  In short, the answer is to return to Subsidiarity where control is local (enforce the 9th and 10th amendments, look them up).  It means removing government laws that create monopoly and busting up existing monopolies.  We also need a completely reformed Catholic labor movement and an end to usury and inflation.  It's in the book.

A few questions for you to ponder:  Is it later stage capitalism that limits the growth of successful small businesses that have to comply with onerous "Obamacare" regs as soon as they reach 50 employees?

Is it late stage capitalism that forces single proprietors to fill out 50 forms per year if they hire (1) employee?  Didn't know about the requirements under the "Dead Beat Dad" regulations?  I'm sorry, but your just broke Federal Law.
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Offline Graham

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Re: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2020, 08:15:30 PM »
I will take the opportunity to recommend three books (all of which I've already recommended in other threads) that may help clarify the thinking and conceptual vocabulary here.

With respect to "rigidity of hierarchy," our current social hierarchies aren't straightforwardly "rigid" after the manner of a caste-based or aristocratic society, or even of a republican military organization. A better term might be "uniformity." Of course you're correct to identify an elite class and outlook in our society, with its own kind of intransigence and an enormous level of power, but describing it as a rigid hierarchy will rightly earn you funny looks, not only because we have all been trained to regard our social system as at least somewhat meritocratic, but because "social mobility" is in fact incomparably greater in our society than in say a caste system, which is truly rigid. Without the understanding that social mobility in this system is relatively high you cannot grasp the essential flaws of the system. Social mobility means social transience, social rootlessness, and so the elite, being individually effervescent, feels no supra-personal bonds of gratitude or duty to the culture and people. And while an individual such as Bill Clinton, the son of a traveling salesman, can rise to the presidency and from there establish a rudimentary kind of political dynasty, or one like Zuckerberg can rise from an unpopular student entrepreneur to a billionaire technocratic overlord by age 30 (albeit still unpopular :lol:), the system is structured so its mobility exacts not only talent and luck but specific kinds of personality, specific kinds of training and certification, and a high degree of meta-ideological conformity to itself. The "rigidity" resides in the demands imposed by the meritocratic structure rather than in coats of arms and ranks inhered to specific bloodlines. On this subject what I recommend reading is The Revolt of the Elites by Lasch.

Now with respect to "late stage capitalism" I will echo James in saying this is not the clearest or most useful formulation, but I will disagree with his own substitution, which is perhaps even less clear. The elite are manifestly not capitalists, not in their relationship to the means of production, not in their motives, and not in their small, manipulative, risk- and accountability-evading personalities - and so the system they preside over cannot be called capitalism. Managerialist is the term we want, because it gets not only at the institutional physiognomy of the system but at its very soul - the inner character of the elite class - who are not capitalists, socialists or distributists, but managers. The means of production are now not typically operated and owned day-to-day by capitalists but by executives, managers, and shareholders (which are often companies run by other executives and managers). Political goals are not truly set by statesmen with any charismatic or traditional authority and with a view to the qualitative good of their people, but by agencies populated by lifer and elite bureaucrats who move smoothly between managerial positions in the private and public sector, convinced of their individual "merit," who pursue quantifiable goods like high rates of consumption. This elite interchangeability creates another distinction between the managerial and capitalist systems, in that it fosters a situation where production is not even necessarily oriented towards profit (profit seeking being a definitive feature of capitalism) since the tightly connected private sector has a practically unlimited trough of public funds and tax benefits to support projects and activities (including propaganda) that are objectively pointless or even operate at a loss. I could go on, but I'll just get to the point: read Burnham's Managerial Revolution, and then if you find time, Francis's Leviathan and its Enemies.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 12:18:26 AM by Graham »
 

Offline james03

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Re: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2020, 08:47:51 PM »
Quote
Managerialist is the term we want,
I whole heartedly agree that that is an appropriate term.  Von Mises even pointed out that the problem doesn't rest with "capitalists", but with the managers of capital.  An interesting discussion can be had about whether our "corporate board" control of corporations is working.  Consider: Not one board of a bank got nervous during the last Greater Recession?  Not one?  Isn't their job to look out for the owners?  Maybe they are paid in stock options and are rewarded for short term stock boosts based on hype?

And consider that in today's economy the "capitalists" are actually pension funds and life insurance companies.  THEY are the OWNERS of capital, and what they really want is a steady immediate dividend payment, future dividend growth, and a slow but steady appreciation in equity.  But the managers, the CEOs and executive VPs are not capitalists, they are managers, and they are all dirt bags that manage hype.  I also have to throw in the bankers as a big problem.

The answer is subsidiarity.  Consider search engines.  DuckDuckGo is a superior engine that supposed doesn't spy on you.  Can they compete? No.  Why?  Because Google has a monopoly on ad revenue.  As an aside, people should use Brave which has a really cool ad model.  I sign up for ads and donate the proceeds to websites I like.
"But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God (Jn 3:18)."

"All sorrow leads to the foot of the Cross.  Weep for your sins."

"Although He should kill me, I will trust in Him"
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2020, 09:32:15 PM »
What should Catholics advocate moving forward?

A mistake typical of cosmic-brained traditionalists is pursuing an "end state" politics rather than process politics. In order to land on a process you do need to envision some kind of final goal, obviously, but the trap is to dwell endlessly on ever more minor details of the proposed end-state, and finally to become a full-blown fantasist. What is the correct level of hierarchical rigidity in a Catholic society? This kind of question is just a waste of everyone's time. "Subsidiarity" is, for now, a pretty good answer. It has a lot of overlap with my own guideline for politics, which I've gotten into before (James disagreed)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 09:34:31 PM by Graham »
 

Offline Armor of Light

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Re: Thoughts on the rigid hierarchy of our late stage capitalism?
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2020, 08:05:25 AM »
..never mind..
« Last Edit: November 09, 2020, 08:10:51 AM by Armor of Light »
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